I'm not ashamed to admit when I make a mistake, and I made a doozy in regards to this weather. A certain newspaper claimed that a shocking 75F heatwave was coming, which converts to 23-24 degrees Celsius. I scoffed, naturally, because that's only slightly above room temperature. Then those temperatures hit, and suddenly it's far too hot. Not impossibly hot, but enough to need a fan to stop myself overheating at night. I'm pretty sure one of my neighbours still has the heating on, though, which makes matters worse.
Anyway, that's some background to this week's sweltering app research. Back to the point at hand. Here is your weekly dose of apps.
Android: Voisi Recorder & Transcriber (Free, plus subscription)
In our everyday life it would be incredibly easy if we could get all the little scraps of information pulled together in a single place. Better yet, it would be nice to record things and not have to worry about typing them up later. Enter Voisi, which wants to be your go-to app for all things recording and transcription.
First thing's first, the transcription. It's worth pointing out at this early stage that transcription is not part of the free app –instead you have to subscribe to unlock the feature (£2.40 a month, £24 a year). It also takes a little while to get things done, and even then it can struggle to pick up exactly what you've said. It's clearly more of a beta feature, and while it shows promise there is clearly more work that needs to be done at the development end. So if you really want to get the most out of it, you're going to have to speak loudly and clearly. Pretend you're a stereotypical English idiot trying to speak to someone foreign, and you should be ok. That said, automatic transcription is rarely this cheap so it's on offer for you if you don't feel like going through all your memos.
The voice memo features are fairly standard. You tap a button in your notification drawer, and it starts recording the memo for you. Once it's done you can play it back, make bookmarks, and attempt your own transcription without leaving the app. Fair warning, location data is on by default, so the privacy conscious will want to go into the settings and change that. If you have location switched on on your device that is.
There are two other notable features in here as well. The first is automatic cloud backups to the account of your choice (handy), and the ability to record phone calls. Recording phone calls is handy, especially since customer service these days seems to involve everything but dealing with the customer's needs – rip that, send it to a firm's Twitter customer service account and BOOM! Instant solutions. You're also capable of importing audio files from elsewhere, and have them transcribed in app.
You should also try:
Opera Mini (Update): A great update this week for some, since Opera' speedy light browser now has an ad-blocker built straight into the browser. [Free]
Screenshot Join: A handy tool for avid screenshotters, letting you combine multiple shots of your screen to create longer images. Perfect if you want to capture something that doesn't quite fit on screen. [Free]
Map for Game of Thrones: Keeping up with the fantasy series isn't easy with all those characters, but with this app you'll at least know exactly where in the world they're all living. [Free]
iPhone: The Rock Clock (Free)
Can you smell what The Rock is cooking? No? Well better sort that out, because he's fixing up a recipe to get you off your lazy arse and get things done. That's a long way of saying that Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson has just launched a productivity-based alarm clock to help you achieve your goals, and maybe make you laugh along the way.
Like any alarm-based app, The Rock Clock is, at its core, an alarm clock. The difference is that it's not just focussed on getting you up in the morning. That's a big part of it – getting out of bed is key to getting things done after all, but there's a little bit more to it.
The idea is that you figure out a goal you want to accomplish, and set an alarm to remind you about it at a key moment. You only seem to be able to set one goal at a time, but you can add as many alarms as you like. That's a little bit annoying, but at the same time I feel that having the option to add more goals would only turn the app into a glorified to-do list. There's also a 'sleep mode' that turns the app into nothing more than a digital clock with a notification letting you know when your next alarm is set to go off. But, obviously, that is going to kill your battery life/recharge time.
Surprisingly the best part of The Rock Clock are the different alarms you can set up. There are dozens to choose from, including a bunch of alarm clock-style melodies. That said, the best ones are the ones that The Rock obviously recorded himself. You can choose to be woken up by the wrestler/actor playing guitar, singing, or simply shouting "BEEP" repeatedly at you. It's funny the first few times, but after a few days of being rudely woken that way it's bound to lose its appeal. Still, it's a much better choice than the nuclear siren that most people choose.
But since this is a motivational app, there is no snooze button for you to slap and enjoy five minutes of extra rest. Apparently The Rock thinks snooze buttons "are for pussies".
The downside is that I can't seem to find any sort of setting that lets you repeat your alarms on set days of the week. If you're wanting to do something at the same time every day, you don't exactly want to have to keep toggling your alarm on and off before you go to bed. Ain't nobody got time for that.
You should also try:
YapJobs: Another choice for Londoners to find themselves work, offering full and part time job listings in all fields of employment. [Free]
Launcher (Update): The ever-popular app-launcher on iOS now lets you keep multiple widgets in your notification centre. [Free]
Continuo: A great looking calendar app that makes keeping track of all your activities and goals an absolute cinch. [Free]
iPad: Talkshow - Texting in Public (Free)
What if a radio show was all text based, and didn't require you to be actively listening to everything that's being said? Sounds a bit bizarre, but that's probably the best comparison I can make for Talkshow. It is essentially something akin to a radio discussion/podcast where one or more people talk about whatever.
In all honesty, there's not much more to it. The show hosts get together and start talking about whatever topic takes their fancy, and the people reading along have a separate tab where they can react to what's being said. Plus, since everything is done by text you can't actually miss out on anything. If you're not paying attention for any length of time, you just scroll back up and see what was said. Pretty simple, and it seems like a nice way for people to have a place where they can come together as a group to discuss things without needing any extra kit or skills. Unlike a podcast which needs a microphone and some maybe rudimentary audio editing skills, all Talkshow requires is the app and the ability to read and type out words.
Anyone can host their own show as well, letting you send out snippets of text, pictures, GIFs, you name it. It took me about 10 seconds to set one up and send a bunch of random bits of text. The best part, though? People can 'tune in', so to speak, without actually downloading the app first.
You should also try:
Moog Model 15: Buy the modular Moog Model 15 in real life and it'll cost you many thousands of pounds. Get the app and you'll get everything the real one has to offer, just crammed into an iPad for the low, low price (relatively speaking) of £23. [£22.99]
Android TV: Finally, iOS-using Android TV owners can ditch the remote in favour of their iDevices. Just download the app, connect it to your player, and you're good to go. [Free]
mush: A platform aimed at connecting mums with other mums in the local area. All so they can get together and do mum things, even at the very last minute. [Free]
Windows Mobile: inKin (Free)
inKin is a social fitness app, designed around connecting with all your fitness devices, friends, and family members. It's been about for a while on other platforms, and now Windows 10 users finally get to have a go.
The main focus is actually connecting to your devices. All the usual suspects are involved here, including Microsoft's Band, Jawbone, Fitbit, Misfit, and so on. Connecting to a device involves linking to an account associated with it, after which everything syncs into place. That means provided the company you use is in the initial list, device compatibility shouldn't be an issue.
The downside here is that if you don't have a device, inKin tells you to download an extra app called Moves. Unfortunately the link in the app takes you to Google Play, and I can't find any trace of the app on the Windows App Store. So if you don't have a fitness device, this app isn't for you.
After that it's much like any other fitness app. You set up your own custom goals based on the usual tracked metrics (steps, calories, etc), you can participate in set contests, and 'duel' against opponents in a 24-hour head-to-head step challenge. Obviously, since it connects with your friends (you can connect by searching their inKin account name, Facebook, and the standard email invite), you get to see how they're doing and grab some extra motivation based on their activities.
You should also try:
Messenger: Facebook's friend-messaging app has landed on Windows 10, letting you enjoy everything Facebook Messenger has to offer - without having to visit a blasted website. [Free]
Fhotoroom (Update): The popular image-editing app now has a brand new drawing tool for you to enjoy. [Free]
WinZip: The well-known compression software has arrived on Windows 10 devices, meaning you can unzip and compress files on your phone on the go. [Free]